Markets rise on ‘surprise and relief’

Bob Moon Feb 8, 2012

Another day, another rumor that Greek negotatiors are closer to a deal to help the country avoid defaulting on its debt. The “will-they/won’t-they?” was enough to rattle the markets again today, though, after a lunchtime slump, they rebounded to close flat.

Since October, when it started to look like European politicians and policy makers were wrapping their arms around the enormity of the eurozone debt crisis, global markets have been on a steady upward climb, moving almost in a straight line up 20 percent.

At least that’s how Lisa Shalett reads the growth. She’s the chief investment officer of Merrill Lynch, and she says this upward tragectory is due to a mixture of “surprise” and “relief.” Surprise at the resilience of the U.S. economy, and relief that Europe is looking is no longer on the brink of collapse.

Many market watchers have been touting equities during this run up, and Shalett is no exception. With corporate profits at record highs, she’s looking for strong companies positioned to share the wealth with investors.

Shalett says it’s also a good time for the fearless investor to wade into some of the riskier parts of the fixed-income markets, such as long-duration municipals and high-yield, emerging-market debt. She warns, these moves are “certainly not for the faint of heart,” but Shalett says keep your eye on the fundamentals and there’s money to be made.

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